Microsoft Tells Students: We Have Rights Too, You Know

"Education is the key to stemming illegal downloads of music and other content," concluded a new study. "Teenagers are less likely to illegally download digital content when they are familiar with copyright laws." The study (PDF) was funded by software giant Microsoft and is being promoted by Weber Shandwick, one of the company's three PR firms. Microsoft's Sheri Erickson said the survey means schools can "prepare students to be good online citizens." But rather than wait for schools to consider the issue, Microsoft hired a "curriculum consulting firm, Topics Education, to develop a pilot program for copyright education in middle and high schools." Microsoft also set up two websites: one that asks teachers to "participate in a Field Test of this brand-new curriculum" and one that asks students to "mix, publish and share" cell phone ring tones created using the site -- after assigning intellectual property usage rights to them. One blogger accused Microsoft of trying "to retrofit 20th century copyright laws onto 21st century realities."